Heating and Cooling with a Geothermal Unit

Did you know your own yard has the potential to be your home’s major source of energy? You could be heating and cooling your house with one piece of equipment, while saving 30 to 60% on your monthly energy bills. Geothermal energy represents the leading edge of home heating and cooling technology. It moves heat energy to and from the earth to heat and cool your home.

Geothermal energy is an unlimited resource. The lot surrounding a typical suburban home contains a vast reservoir of low temperature thermal energy, typically 10 times that required over an entire heating season. And this resource is constantly resupplied by the sun, the surrounding earth and heat rejected while cooling during the summer. At specific depths under the surface of the earth, the underground temperature remains constant, even though the outdoor temperatures very widely. Geothermal systems harness this relatively constant, renewable energy source, and use it for heating and cooling a house. A system simply transfers heat from the earth to the home in the winter and from the home back to the earth in the summer.

The installation of a geothermal unit can be done on a new house or an existing house. After the trenches or holes are dug, piping or coiled tubes are laid into the ground and run into the house to the ducts. The ducts carry the warm or cool air to all the rooms in your house.

Geothermal systems work by circulating a water-based solution through the “loop” of small diameter, underground pipes. When heating, this solution absorbs heat from the earth and carries it to the geothermal unit, which, through a process much the same as your refrigerator, compresses the extracted heat to a high temperature and delivers it to your home. When cooling, the process is simply reversed, excess heat is carried away from your house and into the earth, resulting in cool, dehumidified air.

Horizontal loops are often considered when adequate land surface is available. Pipes are placed in trenches, in lengths that range from 100 to 400 feet. Vertical loops are the ideal choice when land surface is limited. Drilling equipment is used to bore small-diameter holes from 75 to 300 feet deep. Pond (lake) loops are very economical to install when body of water is available, because excavation costs are virtually eliminated. Coils of pipe are simply placed on the bottom of the pond or lake.

Cost of a geothermal unit: A unit that would be adequate for a 2,500 square foot house would cost approximately $16,000; that’s three times the amount of a traditional unit. But the energy bill for a traditional unit would cost about $2,500 per year; The energy bill for a geothermal unit would cost about $900 per year. The pipes will probably last longer then the house and the ducting and units should last up to 20 years. Plus, you may be able to get tax credits or rebates from your local utilities company depending on where you live.

No flame, no flue, no odors and no danger of fires or fumes. The completely self-contained unit needs no noisy, unsightly outside condensing unit. The system emits no CO2, which is considered to be a major contributor to environmental air pollution.

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